Local experts warn people still paying with checks

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Local experts are warning people who still use checks to be more careful, due to rising check fraud.

While many people still use checks to pay things like taxes, bills, school activities, or babysitters, fewer people are using them these days. However, the number of people committing check fraud is rising.

It’s as easy as using the account number and routing number, which are both listed clearly at the bottom of the check. With that, thieves can get into someone’s account and clean them out. They can those numbers, go to an online check ordering website, and clone someone’s checks. Even if the account holder’s name isn’t on the checks, the money will still come out of their account.

Experts say it’s rare for banks to cross reference account addresses or names to the shipping address.

So WNCT went to local banks to find out what they’re doing. Vice President of the Greenville State Employees’ Credit Union Jeffrey Nelson says they try to verify checks, but it’s not easy.

“Frankly, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. It’s in the texture of the item and a lot of times, the content. Oftentimes content is mixed and matched from different accounts to throw off financial institutions,” Nelson said.

Nelson says they see a trend in who’s victimized in our area.

“Be it family or friends or a caretaker forging their name or taking advantage of people. Usually, unfortunately, it’s the elderly and the poor that are affected the most by this,” Nelson said.

This is why Nelson recommends only sharing information with people who can be fully trusted. To be safe, he says people should always shred or throw away items they don’t need that might have account numbers.

Some experts will go as far as saying people should stop using checks, but Nelson says just be careful and only use them to pay at reputable companies.

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